As a student at Central Michigan University and an involved student in the Leadership Institute on campus, I had the opportunity to SPARK change with 100 CMU student leaders during the SPARK leadership experience. After spending 6 hours filled with motivation, inspiration, ice breakers and challenge courses I can successfully say that I learned so much and met some pretty great people in the process!
My team for the day worked so well together, with every challenge we faced we coped and adapted without conflict between one another. Sometimes things got a little tricky, but all we had to go was regroup and think things through before trying again! At every obstacle we came across, we accomplished our goal at hand and then had fun while doing it. We were winning at all levels during the SPARK leadership experience. I was very luck to have such a great group!
Throughout the entirety of the day, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to listen to a few speakers, some of which are faculty here at CMU. Out of all of the things that I took away, the one thing that stuck the most was something along the lines of what Kathleen Gardner had said. Kathleen is the Director of Residence Life and after listening to her talk, I realized how fortunate I am to be a student here at Central Michigan University; the faculty here take care for their students and they really want what’s in our best interest! On another note, seeing how passionate people are about making a difference is other people’s lives and helping them build their leadership styles was truly inspiring! Every speaker had a story, a purpose and a passion that filled me with joy, seeing other people so passionate makes my heart so happy.
After the challenge course came to an end, and all speakers had gone, it was time for all of the students to partake in a very weird and semi-uncomfortable game. Alpha-Beta. In this game, the “alphas” have to obey certain guidelines of one culture while the “betas” have to obey certain guidelines of another. Throughout the game, a certain amount of people from each group (usually 2 or 3) enter into the other culture to try to understand what their objective/lifestyle is like. Sometimes, this experience is not the greatest or nicest. This game makes you realize how people act in their own culture and then how they act when they are placed in a culture that they are not familiar with. Every time I play this game I take away a different lesson, in this particular case I noticed body language and instinctive reactions. When someone is placed in a situation that they are uncomfortable in or don’t necessarily agree with, you can instantly tell how they are really feeling through their body language and their facial expressions. Most people try to inhibit these reactions but a lot of the time, they are not purposefully doing said actions to insult or judge anyone, it was judge a natural human instinct. I guess I had known this to be true, but for whatever reason, this activity made it even more clear.
Having attended the SPARK Leadership Experience during my first semester at CMU, I can truly was a great way to kick off my freshman year within the LI. Having experienced how different my first college level leadership conference, I look forward to future conferences and leadership opportunities that I will have on and off of campus. I feel that because of this experience I was able to expand my knowledge and I took away a great deal of lessons that I did not have previously. I plan to work on my leadership style and cherish the experience I was given, as well as take advantage of the future opportunities that may be offered to me at any point in the next few years. I would highly recommend any and all CMU students to attend the SPARK Leadership Experience, rather any program put up by the Leadership Institute, the staff and volunteers work hard to provide a first time experience for everyone.